Fylde MP’s call over ‘shameful’ treatment of assistance dog passengers

Mark Menzies Guide Dogs

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has pledged to support a call for all taxi and minicab drivers to be given disability equality training.

He took part in a Parliamentary debate this week to press for training, after being told by guide dog owners they were often refused passage.

The Private Member’s Bill that sought to introduce such training was debated on November 18 but was not voted on due to a lack of time. It is hoped the matter will be returned to Parliament in the near future.

Guide Dogs staged an event in Parliament, where guide dog owners told the MP for Fylde how taxi and minicab drivers refused to carry them because they had their dog with them. They explained they had missed important appointments due to the refusals and how it had left them anxious and reluctant to use taxis and minicabs again.
Mr Menzies said: “It is shameful to hear from so many people who are illegally turned away from taxis and minicabs because they travel with an assistance dog. I’m asking the Government to act to ensure all taxi and minicab drivers receive disability equality training so they are aware of the law and how to assist their disabled customers in the right way.”
James White, senior campaigns manager at Guide Dogs, added: “Imagine you were turned away by a taxi driver or asked to pay an extra fare, for no good reason.
“Despite legal protection, this regularly happens to people living with sight loss because they are travelling with a guide dog.
“This discrimination is not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and can stop them doing everyday things that most people take for granted.
“We are very disappointed that we didn’t see a vote on the Disability Equality Training Bill. We were encouraged by the Government’s supportive comments and hope they will take action to introduce training for all taxi and minicab drivers.”

Although the Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to carry an assistance dog, Guide Dogs research found 42 per cent of people living with sight loss were turned away by a taxi or minicab in the last year because of their guide dog. The research also revealed 38 per cent of assistance dog owners have illegally been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.

During the debate, held by cabinet office shadow minister Andrew Gwynne, Mr Menzies asked: “Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is important for each and every one of us in the House to raise this issue with our local authority and through columns in our local newspapers, to ensure that no one can use ignorance as a defence for refusing services to blind and disabled people?”

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